Neurotypicality is a grounding narrative of exclusion. The neurotypical is the category to which our education systems aspire. It is the category to which our ideas of the nuclear family aspire. And, it is the category on which the concept of the citizen (and by extension participation in the nation-state and the wider global economy) is based.
In the context of education, which is the one I am most knowledgeable about, the mechanisms for upholding the neurotypical standard are everywhere in force. Every classroom that penalizes students for distributed modes of attention organizes learning according to a neurotypical norm. Every classroom that sees the moving body as the distracted body is organized according to a neurotypical norm. Every classroom that teaches predominantly for one mode of perception is organizing its learning according to a norm. Every classroom that knows in advance what knowledge looks and sounds like is working to a norm.
Intelligence, understood as the performance of a certain kind of knowledge acquisition and presentation, is built on the scaffold of neurotypicality as the unspoken norm. To speak of the normative tendencies of education is not new. My concern is with what remains largely unspoken in that conversation. Having “special needs” classrooms upholds neurotypicality, for instance, as the dominant model of existence. Drugging our children because of their attention deficit is upholding a neurotypical norm. Sending our black and indigenous children to juvenile detention centers in disproportionate numbers is upholding a neurotypical norm which takes, as neurotypicality always does, whiteness as the standard.
WordPress + a refreshed P2 + Matrix make for some interesting indie ed-tech possibilities.
Besides your web browser, your music player, and your team communication app, what are your most used macOS apps? My top 5 (per Timing): Ulysses, DEVONthink 3, Reeder, Spark, YNAB
Writing ability is crucial, and distributed work only amplifies its importance.
A related thought from “Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools”:
Writing is too important because, though forms and structures will differ, writing is the path to power for those born without power. This importance lies not in how to write a “five‐paragraph essay” or a “compare and contrast” book review but in the capability to clearly communicate visions both personal and collaborative. Whether the work is a tweet that generates action when that is needed, or a text message to an employer, or the ability to convince others in the political realm, or the expression of one’s identity in a form that evokes empathy in those without similar experience, “communicating” “well” is a social leveler of supreme importance.
In both cases, methodology become less important than process. Our students read on paper, or through audio books, or through text‐to‐speech, or by watching video, or by seeing theater – or by observing their world. They write with pens, keyboards large and small, touchscreens, or by dictating to their phones or computers, or by recording audio, or by making videos, or by writing plays or creating art, or playing music. We do not limit the work by attacking those with disabilities or even inabilities – or even other preferences, because that robs children of both important influences and of theira individual voices. Multiplicities are an intention: We build the best collaboration, the deepest learning, when we expand the opportunities for complex vision.
Thus we begin by moving the teaching of writing from the training of a specific skill set toward an interpersonal art form that flows from students and builds communities. Then, through the reimagining of teaching places into “learning spaces,” we craft “studios” where all the technologies of school – time, space, tools, pedagogies – liberate and inspire rather than deliver and test. Then, using those recrafted technologies, we allow communication learning to flow.
Distributed work amplifies the importance of writing and is at its best when it provides tools and culture for making that writing an accessible equalizer supportive of neurological pluralism.
Written communication is the great social equalizer.
Remember this if you start to fear your Autistic child is spending too much time interacting with others online and not enough time interacting with others face-to-face. Online communication is a valid accommodation for the social disability that comes with being Autistic. We need online interaction and this meta-study demonstrates exactly why that is the case.
I couldn’t help wondering, since the study showed the durability of first impressions and the positive response to the written words of Autistics, with all visual and auditory cues removed, could we mitigate childhood bullying in any way by having a class of students meet first online, in text, and form their first impressions of one another in that format before ever meeting face-to-face?
Getting online was revolutionary and may have saved my life.
The difference between offline and online communication could not have been more dramatic.
Assuming for the sake of argument that ABA is effective at changing people’s behavior, it either does so via changing their underlying thought structures or values (“deep change”), or it does not (“superficial change”). If ABA is “successful” by way of deep change, then ABA violates autonomy insofar as it coercively closes off certain paths of identity formation. If ABA is “successful” by way of superficial change, then ABA violates autonomy by coercively modifying children’s patterns of behavior to be misaligned with their preferences, passions, and pursuits. Such superficial change is a pervasive form of interference that compromises children’s present and future autonomy.
Our contribution is to argue that, from a bioethical perspective, autism advocates are fully justified in their concerns—the rights of autistic children and their parents are being regularly infringed upon. Specifically, we will argue that employing ABA violates the principles of justice and nonmaleficence and, most critically, infringes on the autonomy of children and (when pushed aggressively) of parents as well.
We will argue that ABA is pro tanto unethical because it violates the autonomy of the children who are subject to it. We recognize that this argument will be controversial, not least because it is uncommon in the bioethical literature to treat respect for autonomy as a relevant moral consideration in decision making on behalf of young children. However, we think this generally is an error. An additional benefit of examining why ABA violates autonomy is that it helps illustrate one reason why respect for autonomy is morally relevant when making decisions on behalf of even young children.
As a framing device, we will take as given that gay conversion therapy is unethical and argue that ABA is coercive in a remarkably similar way.
The set of social, political, cultural, and personal rules favors a particular way of thinking, feeling, behaving, and communicating as superior to others: the neurotypical form.
Our parents are ashamed of our differences, and we notice it. They continually repress us when out of instinct we obey our neurology. They deny us reasonable adjustments because according to their own neurology, our differences are meaningless and no one has explained to them that it is a right.
The vast majority of medical interventions around autism are not accepting of autism as one of the many biological possibilities of human diversity. Without evidence, they pathologize our differences, dehumanizing us.
The authorities force us to submit to systems that do not take into account our differences, making access to our human rights difficult.
The neuronorm forces us to camouflage ourselves when it is possible (at a very high cost in health and dignity) and when it is not possible we are denied the presumption of competence and the most basic rights are taken away from us: dignity, freedom, education and even the right to live.
We are the rare ones, the strangers, those who do not share the codes that unite society. We are the epitome of what it means to be “the other,” our way of being considered “not valid.”
NEURONORM: The Neuronorm is the set of social, political, cultural and personal norms that privilege a particular way of thinking, feeling, behaving, and communicating as superior to others.
Forty hours of look at me/quiet hands? No more fluttering your hands in a language only you know, no more flapping your hands watching golden drops of happiness fly from your fingertips as you hum … no more angry bolts of lightening flying from your nails as you shake your hands so hard your wrists pound.
No more you.
Twenty accessible pages on autistic minds that I recommend to every educator.
Recently, I coined the neologism ‘psychsplaining’ to try and account for the way those categorised by psych-professionals are often reduced within such relationships to that of the ‘sick role’ (Parsons 1951), with one’s own interpretations of oneself undermined by the ‘expert knowledge’ being projected upon the autistic person, who by default is positioned in a relatively powerless social position of medical ‘patient’.
An essential component of my journey was an identity transformation from being a patient to being an agent.
We’ve built this whole infrastructure about fixing folks, about turning people into passive recipients of treatment and service, of turning people into patients. But being a patient is the most disempowered place a human being can be.
We need to cultivate a sense of agency in people which is the opposite of patient hood.
We have a medical community that’s found a sickness for every single human difference. DSM keeps growing every single year with new ways to be defective, with new ways to be lessened.